Sunday, 28 September 2014

Vintage Fairs

Yesterday, a friend and I headed off to sample the delights of two vintage fairs being held in Lincoln.  As she said, 'vintage fairs here are like buses, nothing for ages and then two turn up together!'  Above is a photos of the cathedral, just because I like it!
The first fair was held at the University of Lincoln, at The Engine Shed, a venue which used to be, yes, you've guessed it, an engine shed!  There were quite a few people there and we were there when it started.  It was a real trip down memory lane and the 1980s fashions with ruching, bows and dropped waists were very familiar. In fact, I owned several of those types of dresses!  There was also a plethora of crimplene but also some very nice 1950s and 1960s dresses too, though, sadly, not in my size.  The music was quite random though and didn't really fit so well with the vintage theme. I bought some material and hope that there is enough for me to make a tunic dress.
The next fair was organised by Britain does Vintage and was at the Drill Hall, a lovely theatre/music/comedy venue which used to be, yes, a Drill Hall!
 I must admit, of the two fairs, this was our favourite.  The music was suitably vintage too, ranging from the 1940s to the 1960s.  There were some beautiful 1950s dresses here too, and one in particular caught my eye.  It had red roses on it and a high collar at the front, then at the back, the collar dipped down and had a lovely bow with long tails which covered the zip. It had a full skirt and I could just imagine myself in it. Sadly, it wasn't my size though.
 The other thing we really liked about this fair was the tea room above the main hall.  It was decorated with patriotic and floral bunting and had proper china.  The ladies serving the refreshments were dressed in vintage clothes and the music was mainly from the 1940s - Glenn Miller featuring quite a bit.  In the photo above, you can see the cake I chose (and delicious it was too) and a little lemon pot which my friend bought as a Christmas present for a member of her family as she collects them.  I bought more material!
Here are the two rather different patterns I bought.  I'm not sure how vintage they are, but they were very good value. The Liberty-type pattern was from the first fair and the fabulous floral number was from the second. (I showed them to Chris, who said the one on the right was 'a bit loud').  He's probably right, but I like it!  The plan, as I mentioned, is to make them into tunic dresses, to be worn with leggings and ankle boots at this time of year.  However, I am seriously contemplating a few sewing lessons because I am not at all confident about making clothes and I think a bit of tuition from someone who knows what they are doing would help.  I really want to make some clothes, so watch this space...

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Cakes and Makes

I picked the last few blueberries from my plants this year and decided to make little cakes with them, however, there weren't quite enough.  I found half a bag of chocolate chips and added them in too.
Great result!  The cakes were yummy and the blueberries and chocolate worked well together.  (There were originally twelve cakes, but Chris and I both felt we should test them before I posted about them, hence just nine in the photo!)
 I have been making some really simple stretchy bracelets recently too.  These are the blue goldstone (glass with copper in it to give the beautiful sparkle) bracelets which were the start of my jewellery making obsession.  They were just too big in their original form, so finally, I have sorted them out and can now wear them.
 I bought this bracelet from a craft fair and it was originally on beading thread with a clasp.  I had re-strung it so that it fitted, but didn't wear it that often.  I decided to elasticate it so that it was easy to get on and off and I hope I'll wear it much more.
Finally, blue shell carved flowers and shell pearls - pretty and summery.  I think that more elasticated bracelets may well be made in the future.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

September colour in the garden highlights

It's the middle of September already - where has this year gone?  We have been lucky so far as the weather has been kind to us at the moment and long may that continue. The plants are enjoying the weather, although they are starting to change with the season.  Above is Hydrangea 'Magical Revolution' which I am still not sure about. The petals are starting to take on a red tinge which I like, so I'll wait to see what else changes.
 Rosa Molineux is rewarding me with more beautiful flowers.
 Clematis 'Perle D'Azur' is also flowering again, in rather a tangle, it has to be said.  I am waiting for a new trellis arch for it to scramble up.
 Asters are flowering too and the novae-angliae varieties are my favourite.  I think this may be September Ruby.
 Another pretty aster.
 Good old stalwart Helianthus Lemon Queen.
 Another aster, this time it is Little Carlow.  It has been fabulous this year and is usually full of insects too.

I am definitely starting to embrace orange in the garden as well.  This is a recent purchase called Crocosmia Emily MacKenzie and it offers a vibrant antidote to all the delicate pastel shades.
After a lot of consideration, the award for star plant of the month has to go to Cosmos Sonata (these are supposed to be a dwarf variety).  I grew them from seed, popped five plants into a terracotta pot and waited.  Lots of frothy foliage, but the flowers took their time.  Now that they are here, all is forgiven!  I have grown them for the last three years and just love them.  I think they will always be a part of any garden I have.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

'From My Home to Yours' Blog Swap - Parcel Two!

As you may know, I took part in the blog swap organised by Betty and my swap partner Emma sent me a lovely parcel.  She also told me that there were more things she had got ready for the swap, but had forgotten to post them, so to look out for them in parcel two. They arrived safe and sound this week. 
 The parcel was unwrapped with great excitement and here's what greeted me...
I set it out and there was a lavender shortbread pack, made with Jersey lavender, a map and tourist guide of Jersey, a bags of blue beads, a blue crocheted flower, a peach rose brooch, and a very pretty bead necklace (the flowers and necklace made by Emma),
 Here are the necklace, beads and flowers - so pretty!
 So, I put the two parcels of goodies together and this is what I received.
Wow - what a fantastic lot of loveliness!  I am really looking forward to making (and eating) the shortbread - I'll let you know how I get on. A HUGE thank you to Emma for all the beautiful things.  Blog swaps are so much fun!

Monday, 8 September 2014

From My Home to Yours blog swap - parcels!

I like taking part in blog swaps and have just been enjoying the 'From My Home to Yours' swap organised by lovely Betty. The idea was to have four things from your home area, one of which had to be hand made, and anything else you felt like including.  I was partnered up with the fabulous Emma and we got in touch, emailed and looked at each other's blogs for inspiration, as well as likes and dislikes.  We made, gathered, bought and created and then swapped.
 Here are some of the lovely things which Emma sent me in the first parcel (excitingly, Emma told me that there would be another one too).  There's a lovely blue bag, made and embroidered by Emma, as well as some fabric washi tape, some floral straws, some flower pegs (perfect additions for my seasonal tree), the sweetest little crocheted owl and some delicious praline chocolate, made on Jersey.
Such a lovely and very appropriate zipped bag!
How gorgeous is this little blue owl?  Thank you so much, Emma, for your lovely gifts  - they are great!
As it was Emma's first ever blog swap, I really wanted her to enjoy it.  I found out she liked owls and her favourite colours were pink and purple.  As you might imagine, those things featured quite highly!  I included a felt heart (hand made and incorporating Lincoln Longwool), and a magazine about Lincolnshire, a map of Lincoln (in case she ever wants to visit) and various postcards and fridge magnets with images of Lincolnshire.  I also included some owl related things, craft related things and jewellery.  I think all my blog swaps so far have included felt and jewellery (that could be a clue for my next swap partner!).  I was lucky to find some owl material and an owl mug and I painted some pastel owls, taken from the wrapping paper which can be seen below, onto a notebook.
Here it all is, wrapped and ready to be packaged up.  It was a lovely swap to be involved with, so thanks to Betty for the organising and huge thanks to Emma for being such a lovely swap partner.  When parcel part two arrives, I'll post about that as well.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Tea, cake, biscuits...and dahlias

I have been baking recently - above is my first attempt at a carrot cake.  Well, I say carrot, but it also has bananas and coconut in it. The recipe said walnuts, but as I don't like them, I substituted coconut instead.
It's a moist and dense cake, a little crumbly, but very delicious.  I was going to make some icing, but we felt it didn't need it.  I will definitely bake this again and maybe add in some ginger and cinnamon too...mmm!
 For the biscuits, I made shortbread and added chocolate chips.  I like shortbread on its own, but you can't go wrong by adding chocolate!  I also have some fudge pieces in the cupboard, so shortbread with fudge pieces may be next on the 'to be baked' list.
My lovely husband went to get us some milk at the weekend and came back with not just the milk, but these beautiful dahlias.  They were being sold in aid of the Salvation Army at a jumble sale-type event.  It was a lovely surprise and I am really enjoying the beautiful colours and amazing flower formations.  I have tried growing dahlias before, without much success, as the slugs and snails think I have planted them just for them.
 I couldn't resist some close ups because the petal formations are so amazing.
 Thanks, Chris, they are gorgeous!
This richly coloured velvety one is my favourite!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

More from Miss M. E. Porter

Here are a few more works by Miss Margaret E Porter; ones that appealed to me.  The image of the lady and butterfly above also has a strong Art Nouveau feel but also reminds me of Aubrey Beardsley's work with the swirling patterns and strong black and white.
 This Rose design was just a little too big to fit on my scanner, but is symmetrical.
I liked the swirly pattern in the centre of this design.
The vines design is one of my favourites - it works really well and has a really good flow around the whole piece.
 Mother and child reading, again, an effective use of monochrome.
Slightly softer in feel, with a more three dimensional appearance for these flowers.  She was a very talented designer and artist.

Monday, 25 August 2014

A Vintage Art discovery

This discovery happened when we went to a little Antiques market a couple of weekends ago, in Castle Square in Lincoln.  We looked round the stalls and saw lots of things we would like, in an ideal world, of course, but then, on one stall, I noticed this ink drawing in  a box, on top of a lot of other papers.
 It reminded me a bit of some designs my granny had done when she was at school, and was Art Nouveau in style, which is a style I really like.  We dug down into the box and found many more ink drawings and some paintings and works in colour.  They all had a number on them (15306) and most had a name and address, M. E. Porter, Sibsey, Boston, Lincs.  We picked out a few images we really liked and got ready to pay.  The stall holder told us that there were letters in the box too, and that M. E. Porter had undertaken a drawing course in 1916-1917, of which these were all part.  She said she had spent a happy evening reading the letters.  We were just going to buy the pictures we'd picked out when, on an impulse, we decided it would be a real shame to break up the collection, so we bought the whole boxful.
Having had a really good look through the work once we got home, we found that the illustration course was with The Practical Correspondence College, based in The Strand in London, and that Margaret Porter's tutor was Charles E Dawson, a well-known designer and illustrator of the time.  The V & A appear to have several of his designs for Jaeger in their collection, but sadly, no images are available.  In the box, however, there are examples of his work as part of the course and a design for Jaeger, which I'll post at a later date.
The course seems to have encompassed a wide variety of styles in order to prepare the student for commercial work. I think that this geometric design is carefully drawn out and well executed - it would all be done on a computer these days, of course!
Another geometric design.
 Miss Porter designed several candle shades (for examples of commercial shades click here) - I liked this one in particular, with its Japanese influence.
 A very Art Nouveau design.
 This poster reminded me of a Toulouse-Lautrec image, with the stippling effect for the hair and in the border.  Gladys Cooper (1888-1971) was an actress, initially in the Theatre, but today is probably best known as Mrs Higgins in 'My Fair Lady'. Later in her career, she was excellent at playing manipulative unpleasant older women, such as Bette Davis' mother in 'Now Voyager'.
 In 'Now Voyager'.
 Gladys Cooper in 1913.
Gladys Cooper with her children. (Photos courtesy of Wikipedia)
We also had a look at the 1901 and 1911 censuses online, to see if we could find out any more about Miss Porter.  We found out that she was born in 1892-1893, (depending which information we looked at), her father, Frederick, was a farmer and her mother, Kate and older sister, also Kate, lived at Main Street, Sibsey, Boston.  The letters show that she moved into Boston itself at some point and there is one addressed to Woodhall Spa, but whether she lived there, or was just visiting, isn't clear.  We think that she died in 1978, in Lincolnshire, but other than that, we don't know any more details about her life.  I would like to think that she perhaps worked in commercial art in some way.  I'll post more of her work in my next post...